In March, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which contains two leave provisions. Does this law apply in California since we have our own leave laws and, if so, what am I required to provide?
Yes, the act applies to California employers with fewer than 500 employees and all public employers. It went into effect on April 1. However, the law contains an optional exemption for health care providers. The Department of Labor originally adopted emergency regulations that created a very broad definition of “health care provider” to include anyone who works in a hospital or other facility related to health care. However, on August 3, a federal judge concluded the department exceeded its authority in applying such a broad definition and invalidated that portion of the regulations.
In response, the Department of Labor revised its definition of “health care provider” to include only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and Medical Leave Act regulations or who are employed to provide diagnostic, preventative, or treatment services, or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care that, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care.
The definition for “health care provider” expressly excludes “employees who do not provide health care services described above . . . . even if their services could affect the provision of health care services, such as IT professionals, building maintenance staff, human resources personnel, cooks, food services workers, records managers, consultants, and billers.”
Thus, covered hospitals may now opt out for some employees but not all.
The revised regulations also provide clarification on other aspects of the law. The new regulations go into effect on September 16. In updated FAQs (#103) the Department of Labor states that the new definition of health care provider goes into effect on September 16. Thus, it appears there is no retroactive obligation. The department has also issued a press release.
As there are tax issues, the Internal Revenue Service has also issued FAQs. (9/16)